Pete’s Salmon Recipes
Two Methods for the Perfect Fish
Here are 2 ways to cook salmon that will yield moist, perfect fish.
The first is a way to duplicate “sous vide” cooking without a sous vide machine. Sous vide is foolproof – I could go on about it for hours. But suffice to say, this simple method gives great results and might make you go out and buy the tools to do it properly.
The second one I learned from a Chef Andrew Deery of Majolica. It gives a fish that is moist but with a crispy skin (I love salmon skin).
Both of these are methods of cooking rather than recipes. You can season the fish however you want. I usually keep it simple with salt & pepper, then serve the fish with a sauce. For salmon, I lean toward sweeter, fruit-based sauces. I’ll add a recipe for this, too.
Method #1: Dishwasher Sous Vide
This method sounds weird, but it will produce the absolute best piece of salmon you have ever had. If you like it, you will probably want to invest in a proper sous-vide setup, but this works just fine and is a great conversation starter.
- Slice the fish, with the skin on, into 1 serving portions;
- Season the fish with salt and pepper, Drizzle with olive oil.
- Place the fish portions into a gallon zip-lock bag – up to 4 pieces per bag – keeping each piece separate from its neighbor.
- Fill a large pot or the sink with water.
- Gradually lower the bag into the water, taking care to keep the pieces separate within the bag.
- Do not let water into the bag.
- As you submerge the bag, the air will be pushed out.
- When the very top of the bag is at the waterline, and all of the air is out, carefully seal the zip-lock.
- You should now have what is essentially a vacuum-sealed bag of separated salmon filets. (if you have a vacuum sealer, you can do this too – just keep the salmon portions separated or seal each piece individually.
- Place the bag or bags in the dishwasher, and run a complete cycle. Feel free to add dirty dishes, too – no sense in wasting a cycle.
- When the cycle is complete, carefully remove the fish from the bags – it will be fall-apart tender, so be careful. Set the pieces skin-side down on paper towels and wipe any white stuff (albumin) off of the filets.
- Preheat a cast-iron or non-stick pan on med-high. Get a culinary torch (any propane or butane torch will do in a pinch – a proper culinary torch will be part of the sous vide kit you buy when you commit later)
- When the pan is hot, turn on your exhaust fan and light your torch.
- Place the fillets skin-side down in the pan (don’t crowd them – work in batches)
- While the skin side sizzles, hit the top side with the torch to lightly brown the flesh – this produces the “Maillard” reaction that finishes the fish and gives it a wonderful color and flavor.
- This process of searing and torching should only take 60 seconds – don’t overdo it. Just torch it till it looks good. The fish was fully cooked in the dishwasher.
Method #2: Sear-and-bake:
- Slice the fish, with the skin on, into 1 serving portions
- Set the fish, skin side down, on paper towels and let stand until fish is at room temperature. You want the fish to be totally dry.
- Preheat oven to 300.
- Preheat a cast-iron or non-stick, oven-proof skillet on medium till hot.
- Season fish with salt and pepper. Rub the fish with a thin layer of olive oil.
- Place fish, skin-side down, in skillet. Cook until you see the fish begin to change color about 1/4 of the way up the side.
- Shake the pan to dislodge the fish – the fish will “unstick” itself when it is ready. Don’t poke it with a spatula. Don’t flip the fish.
- When the fish slides on the pan, place the whole pan in the oven.
- Bake the fish until it is done – about 5-7 minutes for a 1′ to 1 1/2″ salmon fillet. Less for a thinner fillet
- Optional – To give the top of the fish some more color, you can briefly flame it with a culinary torch, or turn the broiler on high for the last minute of cooking.
- Be careful not to overcook.
Sauce for salmon
I like something that has some sweetness. I usually start with the same base, then add whatever fruit is in season or that I have on hand – peaches, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, any kind of stone fruit, even apples, will work.
- Melt some butter in a small saucepan.
- Add a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped shallot or onion. Saute till soft (2-3 minutes)
- Add chopped or smashed fruit of choice.
- Add a slug of maple syrup.
- Add a splash of soy sauce (fish sauce or even anchovy pastes works well, too – you just want a shot of salt and umami flavor here)
- Saute till the desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust as needed – if it’s too sweet, add some lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. If it’s too tart, add a little more syrup and soy.
Top with grilled fruit slices (apples or stone fruit) and drizzle with balsamic glaze.